What are Examples of Promotional Materials for All Businesses?

Universally Successful Promotional Products
Scott Kalapos on May 9, 2023

Marketing can be one of the most complex aspects of running a business. Most likely, you know your product or service like the back of your hand. Perhaps the company has existed for many decades and is a titan of the industry. Maybe you are just starting out as a solopreneur and are trying to build a brand around a specific service that you offer. No matter the size of the business, marketing is going to play a significant role in your level of success.

Choosing a marketing plan is the toughest step in the process. There is likely a budget that you have to stick with, making it crucial that you choose the right channels to pursue and that your messaging speaks directly to the needs of your target audiences. Plus, there is a plethora of options when deciding what marketing materials will help the business achieve its goals, from social media to billboards to business cards. Add all these decisions together and you have a huge challenge on your plate.

Seeking an Alternative Marketing Strategy

If you have any knowledge of the business world in the last decade, then you are probably aware of the most well-known channels that your business could leverage. Digital marketing materials like social media marketing, email marketing, websites, pay-per-click ads, and organic search engine optimization are common for businesses that desire an online presence. Other traditional marketing materials like tv/radio advertising, print marketing, and networking can also be very effective marketing strategies.

Perhaps you are looking for other marketing materials that can help you increase brand awareness with new customers, build loyalty within the current clientele, and promote a positive internal culture for your employees. This requires a different form of marketing collateral if you want to achieve all these goals with one particular campaign.

What is Promotional Product Marketing?

Promotional Product Marketing

The concept of branded promotional items is a simple one. You give away physical gifts to people that bear the image of your company on them, providing value while also increasing visibility for the brand. Promotional items are commonly used by companies of all sizes to spread their message to target audiences, building a relationship between the recipient and the business while also turning the recipient into a passive brand ambassador.

What makes promotional product marketing so powerful is that it can give you some of the most versatile marketing materials that you will encounter. There are a couple of advantages to investing in promotional material for your advertising campaign.

High Visibility

High Visibility

With the right mix of high-quality items and cheaper products, you can provide a ton of value to recipients and achieve greater reach for your business. The more promotional material you put out into the world, the more opportunities the brand will have to make an impression on others. Unlike other strategies like social media marketing or content marketing, this form of marketing collateral is physical and can be interacted with by others who may see your marketing message every time a recipient uses the item.

Significant Potential ROI

Potential ROI

Effective marketing materials always have a high return on investment. Promotional marketing materials certainly have that capability. Once you have paid the initial cost of the items, the expenses are over. However, you could receive repeat brand exposure for as long as the recipients use the products you gave them. For example, an individual could wear a branded t-shirt every three weeks for the next few years, and every time they do, more people may become familiar with the small business you own. The potential for a great ROI is something to consider when deciding on what marketing campaigns are worth it. Promo items are certainly popular as low-cost marketing materials.

Creating Loyal Customers/Employees

Local Customers & Employees

Loyalty is just as important as awareness if you want the business to grow. While your main objective for promotional marketing collateral might be to share your brand story with potential customers, another purpose can be fulfilled with this campaign. Giving customers and employees gifts can be a great way to increase the amount of goodwill you have, making them more loyal to your brand. Perhaps it will convince customers to exclusively buy a product or service from you. Additionally, gifting useful products to employees can improve internal culture and demonstrate that you appreciate their work. Happier workers make better workers, and employee retention can save you a lot of resources by avoiding constant staff turnover.

Local Marketing

Local Marketing

One of the largest beneficiaries of promotional product marketing is businesses that serve in a specific geographical area. For example, a small business that provides hair styling services to clients is not going to worry about drawing in potential customers from several states away. A new business especially must focus on marketing itself locally. While direct mail, social media, and yard signs can support the advertising needs of small businesses in a local market, promotional products can take visibility to the next level. Specifically, promo products can be a great method for advertising a grand opening event.

What Marketing Materials are Universally Effective?

Now that you understand the potential benefits of a promotional product campaign, you might be wondering what types of products are out there that you could take advantage of to grow the business. However, not all branded merchandise is created equally. The following list is a guide for some of the most universally effective giveaways that could give your company's marketing initiatives a huge boost. It's time to get into the details of which promotional marketing material will serve your company well.


Promotional Apparel

One of the most noticeable forms of promotional marketing material is branded clothing. Whenever you walk past another person, their outfit is probably one of the features that you observe first. What kind of shoes do they have on? What color is their shirt? Are they wearing an eye-catching hat?

Products that people can wear are highly effective as branding opportunities, so investing in t-shirts, hats, scarves, headbands, jackets, purses, handbags, and other clothing items/accessories can bring a ton of exposure to your business.

Trade Show/Printed Items

Imprinted Trade Show Items

While print marketing is technically another form of advertising, there is a little bit of crossover with promotional items, especially when it comes to industry events like trade shows, which can be a crucial tool for your brand (opens in a new window).

For example, a business card is a simple giveaway that may not seem like it provides much value to the recipient, but it does give them an avenue of connecting with a resource that can help solve their problems. A business card is an easy giveaway at trade shows, or you can create flyers to share information with booth visitors. Anything that is an eye-catching visual representation of your business can be useful in attracting attendees to your booth or table, and your brand kit is an essential part of this process. Other printed items that can promote your business outside of an industry event include window displays, business cards, yard signs, custom stickers, direct mailers, and banners.

Healthcare Products

Healthcare Items

Showing that your business cares about health and wellness can earn the brand a much better reputation with all parties. Whether you provide first aid kits with branded product packaging to customers or portable hand sanitizer containers to your team members, you can promote wellness with your giveaways. Other ideas include stress balls, journals, pill boxes, reusable water bottles, hot/cold gel packs, lip balm, and face masks.


Branded Drinkware

Everyone enjoys a good beverage, whether it is a hot cup of coffee in the morning, a cool beer on a summer evening, or some refreshing water after an intense workout. Branded drinkware can have very high visibility, as people will bring beverages almost anywhere they go, from the office to the classroom to the big game.

Some marketing materials that fall into this category are coffee mugs, shot glasses, beer steins, water bottles, travel mugs, thermostats, and wine glasses. If you want to provide even more value to your potential customers, then you could order some koozies to help keep their drinks cool or warm without being uncomfortable to hold. These drinkware marketing materials are perfect for many different businesses, from a coffee shop to a restaurant to a school to a souvenir shop.


Sports & Fitness Marketing Materials

Whether your customers are attending the big game, playing in it, or just wanting to stay in shape, sports & fitness provide plenty of chances to thrill your audiences with the right giveaways.

There is a long list of effective products in this category, including stadium cushions, foam fingers, sports balls, golf tees, rally towels, cooling towels, yoga mats, bandanas, hand fans, and more. With a wide array of diverse products, you can make fitness enthusiasts and sports fans very happy with your giveaway campaign, all while raising awareness for your business.

Tech Accessories

Custom Tech Accessories

Where would we be without technology? Every day, people across the country and the world rely on technological innovations like smartphones, computers, wifi, and others to make life easier. Accessorizing these devices is a great way to enhance their usefulness, and the right promotional giveaways can do just that.

No matter what industry your business is in, tech accessories can give you a foothold with potential customers while building loyalty for current customers and employees. You can use a wide variety of products to your advantage, such as digital signs, Bluetooth devices, QR code marketing materials, phone stands, mobile device wallets, laptop sleeves, chargers, flash drives, and selfie sticks. Depending on your main audience, these items could be a great way to connect with potential clients at an upcoming event.

Home Goods

Home Goods

You might think that investing in items that are normally used at home may not be great for exposure, but the loyalty factor cannot be underestimated. Plus, people who visit their friends or families are still going to create some impressions for the business.

Some popular customized home goods that are highly appreciated by recipients include bag clips, organizers, candles, oven mitts, cutting boards, food containers, and pet accessories like leashes or bowls. Small businesses and large corporations alike can earn goodwill for their brands by investing in common home goods that make life a little easier for users.

Office/School Supplies

Office & School Supplies

Every business has audiences that could use helpful office or school supplies. Even if they are not used in those settings, they help organize and write things down at home, so this category can spread your company name to a wide range of potential customers.

Some marketing material examples in this category are stylus pens, sticky notes, portfolios, binders, folders, note pads, journals, key card holders, calendars, and daily planners. These items can help your audiences become more organized while exposing your business to new people on a daily basis.

Outdoor Promotional Products

Outdoor Promotional Items

Encouraging your team members, employees, vendors, business partners, and members of the public to spend more time outside can position your company as a positive force in the community. By gifting promotional marketing material that encourages time spent outdoors, you can demonstrate your devotion to mental and physical health.

Some ideas for outdoor giveaways are beach chairs, umbrellas, sunglasses, ponchos, beach towels, folding chairs, yard signs, garden gloves, gardening tools, and fishing items. By promoting the outdoors with your promotional giveaway, your company can gain exposure and loyalty with the right audiences.

How to Build an Effective Strategy for Promotional Product Marketing

It is important to note that investing in branded merchandise is not a guarantee of success or growth in the customer base. There has to be a detailed and thought-out plan to ensure that how you use this method will be effective with your target audiences. Let's take a look at some factors to consider when creating a marketing plan that involves promotional products.

Knowing the Audience

Know Your Audience

If you do not have buyer personas to reference when you create marketing materials for any medium, it is time to change that. Buyer personas are fake profiles of typical customers for your business. They are very specific, including information like salary, the type of car they drive, what their family looks like, where they live, and hobbies that they enjoy. It can guide your messaging and medium selection to ensure you create effective marketing materials that will speak to them.

The better you understand your audience, the easier it will be to select promotional products that will provide value to them. If you can fulfill a need with a giveaway, then you can be confident that the item will be used often and improve their perception of the business.

Quality or Quantity?

Quantity vs Quality

This is an important question you need to answer as you plan this campaign. Sometimes, it makes sense to focus on one or the other, but you may also decide on a mixture of both. High-quality items may cost more per unit, but they are more likely to be used regularly by recipients and in a more visible way. For example, a logo-imprinted jacket may see heavy use in the fall or winter, and it will be very noticeable to others.

Cheaper items that you can buy in large quantities can increase your reach, though they may not be as noticeable or used very often to create more impressions. You could purchase several hundred customized pens, which will give you many gifts to give away to many people. However, those pens could easily end up in the bottom of the drawer or get lost in the shuffle of other writing utensils, diminishing their potential impact.

When, Where, and Who?

When, Where, and Who?

Other factors that can determine the success of your promotional marketing materials are when you give them away, where you give them away, and to whom you give them away. Handing giveaways out willy-nilly may not accomplish much, especially if the recipients are not within your target audience.

Consider the time and place that make the most sense for a giveaway campaign. Should you bring some items along with you to trade shows or corporate events? Should you bring these marketing materials to job fairs to entice potential employees? Would these pieces of marketing collateral make good holiday gifts for your team members? Is there a place for free prizes at a grand opening or the next event in the community? Consider how a prospective customer might come into contact with a promotional product and gear your strategy toward the right time, place, and recipients for these marketing materials.

Models of Success


Did you know that promotional products have been around since the 1800s? The history of promotional product marketing (opens in a new window) is an interesting one, starting with a newspaperman who wanted to keep his printing presses going when business was slow, and it has resulted in a multi-billion dollar industry today. How has promotional product marketing worked in the past?

Political Campaigns

Political Campaign Items

Without getting too deep into politics, it is undeniable how influential promotional products have become during election season. Everything from campaign pins to hats to customized stickers, to gigantic banners have been used to convince voters to elect a specific candidate for office for various branches of government.

Supplementing Other Advertising Initiatives

Supplemental Advertising

A holistic marketing approach has long been the standard for effective advertising. When the various marketing material initiatives all line up around a common theme, companies can see far more positive results from their campaigns. Think about the phrase "Just Do It." You immediately think of Nike because they spread that message around to all advertising campaigns, including promotional products. When your branded merchandise supplements your other marketing efforts, you can achieve a higher level of exposure and brand recognition with a prospective customer. Make sure that your business cards, social media presence, direct mail campaigns, promotional product packaging, and other marketing media are all aligned so that you are sharing a consistent message with your audience.

Raising Awareness for Non-Profits

Charity Awareness

Non-profits have used this traditional form of marketing to great effect in the past. Perhaps one of the most well-known campaigns for a non-profit is the Livestrong bracelets. Popularized by the famous biker, Lance Armstrong, these promotional products became a common sight across the country, promoting cancer research by the Livestrong Foundation. As you can see, this marketing material can have a huge impact on the growth of your business or non-profit organization.

An Effective Campaign Combines Planning with Strategic Investments

How will you achieve the best results for your brand? Top companies around the world have embraced promotional products for decades, spreading awareness at a breakneck pace while fulfilling the needs of their audiences with product selection.

With the right strategy and investing in high-quality items that will be useful to customers, employees, vendors, or other parties, you can create impressions with everyone on your contact list and beyond.

Do your due diligence with audience research to better understand the needs of your target customers. Armed with that information, choose products that will solve a problem for the recipient of a giveaway. This will provide value and ensure that the item is actually used, resulting in potential impressions for the organization.

Then, make sure that you have a plan in place for when and where to give these items away. Align your other marketing efforts with this initiative by promoting merchandise on social media, or including a QR code on your business card that takes people to an online merchandise page.

If you want to implement the most effective campaign for promotional products, then you must be willing to create a detailed plan. While you cannot control what people do with the products once they have received them, you can give your company the best chance of success by researching and crafting a strategy based on the needs of the audience. Though a traditional form of marketing may seem like a better way to reach modern audiences, you should never underestimate the power of a giveaway that provides value.

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